Here’s What Made Anat Ebgi Change Her Mind About Opening a New York Outpost

Photography by Matthew Kroening. Artwork featured by Joshua Petker. All images courtesy of Anat Ebgi.

In February 2023, Anat Ebgi penned an op-ed for Artnet News about her enduring commitment to Los Angeles—where her eponymous, 12-year-old gallery has earned a loyal following among the denizens of a growing art scene—at a time when many of her peers were eyeing expansions to the East Coast or abroad. “For me,” she wrote, “it’s still all about LA.” Fast-forward to November, and the Miami native had news: She was opening a gallery in New York.

“Honestly, it kind of took me by surprise,” says Greg Ito, a dyed-in-the-wool LA artist who has worked with Ebgi since 2019. “The way that Anat operates … it can seem very on-a-whim. But I’m also that kind of person. If there’s an opportunity or you get a whisper, you just go for it.” In Ebgi’s case, the whisper came from a prospective client in Manhattan real estate who offered to show her some properties while she was in town for Frieze New York last spring.

Suddenly—enticingly—the prospect of a bicoastal operation was right in front of her. “He planted the seed in my head. From there, everything just fell into place like puzzle pieces,” Ebgi says with enthusiasm. It’s not the only time the 45-year-old dealer—whose disposition is as warm and sunny as her adopted home city—lets her enthusiasm for the next chapter peek through. As Moira Sims, whom Ebgi hired from Simone Subal Gallery to direct the New York branch, says, “Anat just has so much energy!” That word—energy—is one she and her new employer use often.

In a reversal of the typical dynamic, the two-story, 5,000-square-foot building on the eastern edge of Tribeca boasts a bigger footprint than either of Ebgi’s LA galleries. But the dealer has no intention of shifting the base of her operation east. New York, she says, represents “an investment in the artists, an investment in the program.” That commitment showed through in “The First Taste,” the Tribeca outpost’s inaugural exhibition, which opened on Jan. 19.

Greg Ito, A World Revealed, 2023. Image courtesy of the artist.

The show included work from every artist on the dealer’s intergenerational, 31-name roster—a group that’s heavy on painters and Angelenos. Many, like Alec Egan, Jessica Taylor Bellamy, and Joshua Petker, straddle both categories. Up next is an ambitious solo presentation from Ito, who, after the initial whiplash of the New York news, decided he was all in. “I want to support Anat as much as she wants to support me,” he says.

It is a precarious time for a gallery like Ebgi’s to set up shop in downtown Manhattan. The area has recently seen a wave of experimental dealers—Foxy Production, JTT, Queer Thoughts—shutter amid a broader economic downturn. The trend has left many wringing their hands over fears that the increasingly top heavy art market is finally squeezing mid-sized galleries out.

Exterior of Anat Ebgi's Tribeca space.

But Ebgi is no stranger to making big moves in tough times. She moved to New York for college on Aug. 29, 2001—less than two weeks before 9/11. After getting her master’s at Bard College, she relocated to LA in search of a museum job at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. When that job proved difficult to find, she opened her first LA gallery, the Company, on a shoestring instead. “I had to do something to pay my student loans,” she explains. Twelve years later, in the middle of the pandemic lockdowns, her eponymous venture expanded with two more LA spaces. (Anat Ebgi closed the oldest of its three LA galleries shortly after signing the Tribeca lease last September.)

With this track record, you could say that Ebgi’s timing is either chronically unlucky, or, shockingly charmed, as she’s managed to endure at every turn. While it is certainly hard to argue with the dealer’s many achievements, it’s also fair to wonder how many times she can play that game and continue to come out on top. To this, Ebgi points out, “Shit’s always bad!” The success of the New York project, she continues, will never hinge on macroeconomic tides. “I’m doing this with eyes wide open,” she says. “The only way New York fails is if I don’t put the energy into it.”

"The First Taste" is on view through March 2 at Anat Ebgi Tribeca. "Vampire::Mother" is on view through March 2 at Anat Ebgi Los Angeles.